The Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces
Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-007
Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) assessed the role of the Department of Justice's (Department) terrorism task forces and councils in achieving the Department's strategic goal of preventing terrorism and promoting the nation's security.1
The review focused on the following Department task forces and councils:2
We examined how the task forces and councils address the Department's strategic goal to prevent terrorism, whether their functions and operations are duplicative or overlap, the adequacy of the guidance and oversight provided to the task forces and councils, and how the performance of the task forces and councils is measured.
Our fieldwork, conducted from June 2003 through January 2005, included interviews, document reviews, field site visits, a web-based survey, and observation through attendance at two training conferences and four meetings.
Interviews: We conducted 278 interviews with senior Department and other government officials, task force managers and members, and individuals who were involved with, or affected by, the terrorism task forces' or advisory councils' operations. We interviewed 57 senior officials in the following Department components.
Document Reviews: We reviewed Presidential Directives and Executive Orders, and Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General memorandums, directives, and guidance issued concerning the task forces and councils. We also reviewed documents provided by the FBI, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), USAOs, Counterterrorism Section (CTS) within the Criminal Division, and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General concerning the management of the task force and advisory council operations. Additionally, we reviewed Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, congressional testimony, DHS Office of the Inspector General reports, and other related reports that impacted on, or were related to, the operation of the task forces and advisory councils.
Field Site Visits: We completed 13 site visits to USAOs and the FBI's field offices and resident agency offices (RAOs).3 We visited:
Survey: To obtain information from a greater number of task force and council members, we prepared a web-based survey. We pretested it with members from a selected ATAC and JTTF as well as with previously interviewed FTTTF and NJTTF members. We made changes to the survey based upon the pretest results. In January 2004, we distributed survey passwords and instructions to a total of 1,810 ATAC, JTTF, FTTTF, and NJTTF members. Two hundred of the e-mail invitations were returned as undeliverable, reducing the total sample size to 1,610.5 Respondents were given three weeks to complete the survey. We received 704 completed surveys, an overall response rate of 44 percent. Appendix IV contains a copy of the survey instrument and results.
In selecting our survey sample, we used a simple random sampling methodology for the ATACs (10 percent of the ATAC population).6 To ensure representation from Department members, we first selected all the non-FBI Department members on the JTTFs and then randomly selected the remaining members to equal a 10 percent sample. Because the FBI has a large number of employees on the JTTFs, we included them in the simple random selection. The NJTTF and FTTTF have small populations; therefore, we surveyed all participants of those task forces whom we had not interviewed.
Observations: In September 2003, we attended the JTTF National Conference, which focused on topics such as terrorism investigations, information dissemination, asset recruitment, and law enforcement coordination. In March 2004, we attended the ATAC Coordinators and Crisis Management Coordinators Conference, which covered topics such as implementation of the Attorney General National Security Guidelines, FBI databases and resources, community outreach to Muslims, and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) prosecution issues.
We also attended two JTTF meetings (one Executive Board and one full membership), one NJTTF meeting, and one ATAC meeting to observe the interactions of the participants and the types of information shared.
This report provides a summary of our findings and recommendations concerning the Department's terrorism task forces and councils. The information is presented in three major sections: 1) background on the task forces' and councils' history, mission, functions, and structure; 2) the task forces' and councils' accomplishments; and 3) issues we concluded can be improved. The appendices provide additional information and details on information sharing systems, the OIG's survey results, and Department memorandums relating to the task forces and councils.